Hand carders have been used for hundreds of years to prepare fiber for spinning. They transform clumps of fiber and locks of fleece into a ready-to-spin bundle called a rolag or puni. In addition to opening up and preparing wool, alpaca, and other fleece, hand carders are also excellent for carding cotton and blending fibers together.
These tools might look simple, but don’t be fooled. There is more here than meets the eye. Here are three key features of Clemes & Clemes Hand Carders.
1. Ergonomic Design
Every pair of Clemes & Clemes Hand Carders are engineered to provide maximum comfort, no matter the size of your project. Each hand card features a turned maple wood handle that fits comfortably in both small and large hands. The handle is tenoned into an alder back, perfectly balancing the tool’s weight in the palm of your hand. This combination of woods provides a high degree of control and allows for hour after hour of comfortable use.
2. Curved vs. Flat Backs
When using hand cards, you glide the carding pads across the surface of each other. The goal is to card the fiber – not the carders! This means there should be a minimal amount of meshing the teeth, while also avoiding dragging them across the hand that is holding the other carder. This leads most people to prefer a curved back on their hand cards, while others prefer flat backs. Clemes & Clemes Hand Cards are available in both varieties to suit your preference. What’s the difference? We’re so glad you asked!
Curved Back Hand Carders allow you to utilize a rocking motion when you are carding your fiber. The vast majority of hand cards our customers choose are curved back. Most people who have tried both styles feel that the curved are more ergonomic.
Flat Back Hand Carders require that you hold the cards parallel to each other as your card the fiber. There is more of a learning curve with flat cards, as it is easier to mesh all of the teeth at once than with the curved back version.
While the majority of fiber artists prefer the curved back hand carders, it truly is a personal preference. Select the back style that sounds like your preferred method of working. If you live near an upcoming show, be sure to visit us and try both types out in person!
3. Versatile Options
Here at Clemes & Clemes, we offer both wool and cotton hand carders. While the names are indicative of the general types of fibers you can card with each, both styles are quite versatile.
Our Wool Hand Carders feature 72 teeth per square inch and are designed to be most efficient at carding relatively long, relatively coarse fibers. This creates a well-rounded carding tool that can be used to prepare most wool breeds and other coarse fibers. You can also use these cards to prepare longer fibers such as suri alpaca and mohair.
Clemes and Clemes Cotton Hand Carders feature 120 teeth per square inch and are designed to be most efficient at carding relatively short, relatively fine fibers. These cards are perfect for (you guessed it!) cotton and other fine fibers such as angora or huacaya alpaca. Our Cotton Hand Cards are also ideal for shorter fibers such as Merino, Rambouillet, and CVM.
So what do you do with a medium fleece or a blend of fibers, you ask? Many of our customers prefer to keep a set of both wool and cotton hand cards on hand and sample to see which style produces their preferred results. This will ensure that you have the right card, for the right fiber, at the right time.
Both our wool hand cards and cotton hand cards are available in student sizes. At approximately ⅔ or ½ the size of their counterparts, our student sizes are perfect for travel, beginners, or working with children. The smaller size is also ideal for anyone with wrist, elbow, or shoulder injuries or repetitive motion injuries. The curved back wool and cotton cards are also available in a variety of woods, including cherry, walnut, and more.
Here’s why you need hand carders.
We meet lots of customers who come to the art of hand spinning from other disciplines like knitting and weaving. It’s a natural progression to go from creating things with yarn, to wanting to create your own yarn. While processing a whole fleece on a Drum Carder can be intimidating to someone just getting started in fiber preparation, Hand Carders are the perfect tool to dip your toes into the water. Use a stellar pair of hand carders to learn the craft and hone your skills before jumping in with both feet. Plus, there is no need to spend time breaking in our Hand Carders – they feature a vulcanized cotton pad, meaning they are less stiff from the moment you start carding.
For our more veteran customers who aren’t new to preparing fiber, hand carders still hold incredible value. Hand Carders are a great way to teach fiber prep to new hand spinners of any age, and using these hand tools can also allow you to get to know your fiber, identifying all the textures and parts you have to work with. When beginning any project, sampling your fleece or blend with hand cards is a great place to start.
So, why do you need Clemes & Clemes hand carders?
For over 50 years, we’ve focused on designing and creating fiber arts equipment. Our iconic logo is branded onto every pair of hand cards that we make – as both a guarantee of quality and symbol of the pride we take in our workmanship. Made by hand in California, USA, our Hand Carders are made simply, efficiently, and gracefully to last you and your family for generations.
As we like to say, “buy your second pair, first” with Clemes and Clemes Hand Carders. You can buy lower quality hand cards from anyone else. You can only buy the best from Clemes & Clemes.